January 2011

JANUARY 2011: Charity Corner - Black And White And Red All Over

Author: David Gignilliat

You’ve probably heard the old quip about what’s black and white and red all over.

A newspaper, right?

Well, yes, but on January 22nd, 2011 it will be The Westin Resort and Spa, as the American Heart Association’s Hilton Head Island Heart Ball 2011 hopes to bring together local residents, businesses and community leaders for an elegant, black-tie affair to raise money and awareness to reduce disability and death from heart disease.

“I think it affects everybody, and alot of people wouldn’t be alive today wihout our research,” says Judy Caramello, the American Heart Association’s director of corporate relations for Beaufort and Jasper County. “By donating money and coming to this event, you just might be saving a life.”

Like many involved with the Heart Ball, Mary Highsmith, the event’s chairperson, has a personal stake in eradicating heart disease. Her father died prematurely of a stroke at age 42, just days after her 16th birthday.

“Working on this event has put me in touch with so many others who have experienced heart related problems in their lives or those of family or close friends,” says Highsmith. “They too, know all too well the devastation this insidious disease causes.”

For the second straight year, the event will be held at the Westin (“We really like it here,” says Caramello), who will host the 350-plus expected attendees. During the event, there will be a special segment entitled “Open Your Heart,” dedicated to uplifting first-person accounts from local survivors. The Ball begins at 6:30 p.m. and will include a silent auction, followed by a live auction later in the evening. The event includes dinner, dancing, music by Deaz Guys and Don Hite, and work from featured local artist April Hobus.

“The Heart Ball is a great way by which we all can lend a hand in achieving that goal while enjoying a fabulous evening at the same time,” adds Highsmith.

Caramello expects to raise over $130,000 from the event, with donations going right back into the greater Lowcountry medical and research community.

“We like to be able to tell people exactly where the money that’s raised that night goes,” says Caramello, who said she can pinpoint where donations go right down to the purpose of project, how much funding they receive, even who specifically will lead the research. ““It’s really kind of cool.”

In 2007 alone, South Carolina lost 8,983 residents due to heart disease and nearly 2,500 to stroke.

It doesn’t have to be that way, Highsmith believes.

“I encourage everyone to come, be a part of it, and lend a hand so that tomorrow’s children won’t need to tell a tale such as mine.”

Tickets can be purchased in advance by calling (843) 853-1597. Tickets are $200 per person and tables of eight are $2,750. Other event sponsorships are also available, ranging from $1,500 to $2,500. For more information, please email judy.t.caramello@heart.org or call 800-950-2482 ext. 3096.

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